Agro-BIG News

Published on: 28/11/2017

Horticulture value chain actors meet in Gonder

On 9th November, AgroBIG organized and coordinated a field visit to the Finnish-funded AgroBIG, CoWASH and REILA project sites in Mecha and Bahir Dar Zuria, in Amhara Region. The participants included three high-level professionals from Finland: Ms Riitta Oksanen, Deputy Director General of the Department for Development Policy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Ms Leena Mubarak, Gender Adviser at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, and Dr Liisa Laakso Rector at the University of Tampere ...read more

Second phase of AgroBIG commencing: successful kick-off held in Bahir Dar

On the 25th October, AgroBIG programme held a kick-off event at BoFEC Hall in Bahir Dar. The event was well attended by participants from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Regional bureaus, administrators and sector heads from AgroBIG partner woredas and stakeholders. ...read more

High-level visitors from Finland meet AgroBIG beneficiaries in the field

On 9th November, AgroBIG organized and coordinated a field visit to the Finnish-funded AgroBIG, CoWASH and REILA project sites in Mecha and Bahir Dar Zuria, in Amhara Region. The participants included three high-level professionals from Finland: Ms Riitta Oksanen, Deputy Director General of the Department for Development Policy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Ms Leena Mubarak, Gender Adviser at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, and Dr Liisa Laakso Rector at the University of Tampere ...read more

Advancing gender equality facilitates development

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Bahir Dar University organized a conference “Women in Society and Development” on November 10th in Bahir Dar. The event commemorated the 100th anniversary of the independence of Finland and also the long history of development cooperation between Finland and Ethiopia. AgroBIG staff were closely engaged in coordinating conference arrangements and some of the related side-events. Representatives from the eight AgroBIG partner woredas and respective zones were among the more than 200 participants who attended the event. ...read more

Agro-BIG Phase I News

Published on: 30/06/2016

Grants news

AgroBIG was happy to receive 103 grant applications for the 3rd call for proposals for Value Chain, IDRF and Matching Grant Funds. Grant proposal evaluation is on-going and expected to be completed by July. ...read more

Finnish MPs familiarizing with AgroBIG

On the 7th of April, a delegation of Finnish Members of the Parliament accompanied by high level officials from the MFA Finland and the Finnish Embassy in Addis Abeba, visited Bahir Dar to familiarize with Finnish support in the Amhara Region. In addition to AgroBIG, the Gov. of Finland is funding CoWASH and REILA programmes in the land and natural resources sector, as well as GEQUIP in the education sector. ...read more

Potato crisps from Bahir Dar – also available in the supermarket

Twenty six potato chips processors, 24 females, have lately been supported by AgroBIG with advisory services on marketing, accounting and saving as well as creating crucial linkages with input suppliers and markets. ...read more

Water drilling activities leading to realize the dreams of the youth

Terakegn, 25 and Moges 23, are both married young men from Shina and Kuhar Abo villages from Fogera. They belong to a cluster organized by WoTVED, to provide manual well drilling services and water pump maintenance, which they have been serving for about 2 years and are making a good living now. ...read more

Field events

Establishing a formal certified seed system for onion is one of the big achievements that AgroBIG has been strongly contributing to. Number of onion seed farmers has increased year by year, and now in Mecha, there are 42 certified seed producers. ...read more

Published on: 4/4/2016

AgroBIG will have a Second Phase

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland has disclosed that AgroBIG Programme will continue for another 4 years. The bid process for the formulation of the new phase is currently on-going. ...read more

5th Supervisory Board Meeting Conducted

The meeting held on the 29th of February at the Grand Resort and Spa in Bahir Dar discussed and endorsed both the Annual Progress Report of 2015 and the Work Plan and Budget for 2016. Also the external Audit Report and management response to it were discussed. ...read more

Annual Survey Results Showing Progress

As communicated in the previous newsletter, a survey for 301 households was conducted at the end of last year to obtain data on the high level indicators to compare these values with baseline data of the AgroBIG Programme. As a conclusion it can be stated that the Programme is showing progress when it comes to the major indicators such as income levels, yield, farm gate prices and ownership of assets. Annual income levels have risen by 49 % reaching 26 306 ETB. Onion yield has increased by 2 quintals and the farm gate price has almost doubled to 682 ETB per quintal. Potato yield has increased by 21 quintals and the farm gate price has grown more than threefold up to 329 ETB per quintal. ...read more

AgroBIG grants supporting value chain actors with innovative equipment

Thirty nine water pumps were handed over to respective cooperative leaders on 6th Feb in Woreta town in Fogera. Purchased by AgroBIG VC grant support, with 15 % cooperatives’ own contribution, pumps accompanied by water pipes are designated primarily for cooperative members for dry season irrigation. ...read more

“Poor man’s food” turned into a new and appealing product

Some years ago, when Berhanu Aragaw was working with development of income generating activities for poor families, he familiarized himself with multiple usages of potato flour. He got interested in the importance of potato for food security in Ethiopia started a potato processing company, currently employing nine people. In his factory in the outskirts of Bahir Dar, Berhanu is producing potato flour for injera and bread, baby food and potato bread itself. ...read more

Mechanization of maize threshing saves farmers’ backs and creates jobs

Threshing maize is hard work. If done manually, it can require up to 12 days of tiresome and repetitious action. By hitting the maize cobs by sticks or using the oxen to tread, the grains will loosen but at the same time a lot of sand and gravel is mixed up with maize deteriorating the quality and reducing the price. ...read more

Animal feed processing diversifies family income sources

Little dust lingers in the air when Gezatu Berie Negash (18) feeds maize residues into the mouth of a chopping machine. Since two months now, he has been providing animal feed processing service with his mother W/o Tasfaye Teshome and sister Netsannet (20). read more

Published on: 17/12/2015

Annual Survey conducted with promising results

During two weeks of October and November, altogether 12 data collectors have been roaming around in Mecha and Fogera woredas, in four kebeles both, interviewing farmers on their agricultural performance. It was the time to collect data to track achievement and progress on onion and potato value chains against the baseline survey conducted one and a half years ago. ...read more

Unemployed rural women engaged in potato processing business

Could you have imagined having freshly prepared chips for a snack in a rather remote kebele somewhere between the valleys in Mecha woreda? It is possible! Since last July, twelve energetic ladies have been serving processed potatoes in Brkat and Gerchech kebeles in Mecha. ...read more

Improving farmers’ income through community based rice seed production and marketing – the power of clustering

Rice production in Fogera is a recent phenomenon but has been rapidly expanding over the last few years. Currently rice is grown in 27 rural kebeles covering 16,000 ha of land and engaging almost 22 000 households. Despite the rapid expansion, production has been constrained by lack of access to quality seeds that can tolerate diseases and cold weather conditions. Agro BIG is involved in rice value chain development by promoting community based rice seed multiplication and marketing in five kebeles in Fogera. This means embracing 173 farmers through clustering. ...read more

Study tour to gain experiences on Warehouse Receipt Systems

Together with ACSI representatives and other key implementing partners, in late November three persons from AgroBIG personnel travelled to Tanzania aiming to learn about well-functioning Warehouse Receipt Systems (WRS). read more

4th Supervisory Board Meeting Conducted Successfully

The meeting was conducted on June 24th at Grand Hotel in Bahir Dar. The meeting mainly discussed on the biannual programme accomplishment report and the management response to the recently conducted mid-term evaluation report. Dr Anu Eskonheimo, Desk officer for Africa region at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, reiterated her observation on the strong government ownership of the programme.

AgroBIG awards grants of 12.8 million birr for development of potato, onion, rice and maize value chains in Fogera and Mecha woredas

In 2015, rice and maize value chain were included and AgroBIG invited additional applications for the three grant funds in the second call for proposals. Announcements were made in the local newsletter, through posters and by distributing promotional flyers. As a result, AgroBIG received a high number of 260 value chain development initiatives. After the initial review of all concept notes, the Mecha and Fogera Woreda Steering Committees approved 207 concepts for the preparation of full project proposals and business plans. Business Development Service providers recruited by ACSI with financial support of AgroBIG assisted the applicants to develop their business plans and full proposals. read more

Agro-BIG Encourages Amhara Potato Chips Seller Women to Boost Up Their Businesses

An increasing amount of potato chips sellers are operating on the streets of Bahir Dar, most of them women. Despite the growing popularity of chips, the sellers face many bottlenecks. Many of them have limited knowledge on food hygiene and lack access to credit. They lack skills on business management and are unorganized. Lack of inputs, such as cooking oil and potatoes, remains a problem. Also supply of electricity is sometimes uncertain. read more

Agro-BIG Mid-Term Evaluation Conducted

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland commissioned FCG (Finnish Consulting Group) to conduct the mid-term evaluation of Agro-BIG programme. The objective of the evaluation was to assess the programme progress, its potential to achieve its targets, and to make recommendations on the corrective measures to improve programme implementation. read more

Fogera woreda aiming to become self-sufficient in quality onion seed production

Good news from Fogera! Onion bulb production has started in upland areas in order for the woreda to achieve self-sufficiency in producing quality onion seed. Onion seed availability is one of the critical constraints in Fogera. read more

Tryouts for Improved Potato Seed Multiplication in Mecha Are Promising, Role of Adet Research Center Incremental

How can a potato processing business thrive without a constant supply of quality potato? How can farmers receive a better price for their product if they do not have access to quality seed? These are questions that demonstrate the importance of a well-functioning quality potato seed system. From its beginning, Agro-BIG has been working with developing such a system in Amhara Region, fully aware of the fact that the absence of such a system is one of the key constraints in the potato value chain. read more

16 Finnish Journalists Visit Amhara National Regional State

Agro-BIG has been receiving a lot of visitors. First, in January 2015, there was a high-level visit which introduced us to the Finnish Minister of International Development. Now, in March, we received a delegation of 22 people consisting of H.E. Ambassador Sirpa Mäenpää, 16 Finnish journalists as well as various representatives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Finland (MFA) and Embassy of Finland in Addis Abeba. read more

Modeling healthy linkages among VC stakeholders

Agro-BIG Program ultimate purpose is to establish efficient and profitable value chains of selected crops/products benefiting the involved actors and stakeholders along the chain. In short, the purpose is to strengthen linkages among different actors along the value chains of marketable commodities. The program is modeling and establishing value chain systems of selected commodities which can be replicated in other areas and commodities. At the beginning two commodities (onion and potato) and later on two other commodities (rice and maize) were chosen for the two target woredas (Fogera and Mecha). The lesson learned and good practices are supposed to be documented and replicated in the other part of the region and commodities. read more

Supervisory Board Meeting Conducted

The third regional Supervisory Board meeting approved about 104 million birr budget for the year 2015 on February 24 read more

Youth visions for the future: when the going gets tough, the tough get going

Under the scorching Ethiopian sun on a Tuesday morning in March we meet two young gentlemen waiting for their customers in their newly established business. Wondale Mehret (24) and Tilahun Bekalu (19) are both members of a youth group which is now running a business in providing responsible agrochemical spraying services. Located by a busy roadside in Ambo Mesk in Mecha District, Amhara region, the group holds its shop in a green corrugated iron sheet house. The shop has two rooms. The shelves in the first room are full of agro chemicals and the second room serves as an office and resting room at the same time. read more

Finnish Minister for International Development Mrs. Sirpa Paatero and H.E. Ambassador Sirpa Mäenpää Visit Amhara National Regional State

On January 8- 9 2015 a high level visit took place in the Amhara National Regional State. Finland’s Minister for International Development, Mrs. Sirpa Paatero, accompanied with high-level officials such as H.E. Ambassador Sirpa Mäenpää visited the region to familiarize themselves with Finnish funded projects. The programme was coordinated by Agro-BIG and consisted of snapshots of the results achieved by bilateral and NGO projects in the region. The projects represented in the high level visit were Agro-BIG, Co-WASH, FinnWASH, ReILA and FFD/Agricord. read more

Market Information System Development Underway

One of the key constraints identified in both potato and onion value chain analysis is the fact that there has been a lack of an efficient and effective market information system.

A marketing information system is a "system in which marketing data is formally gathered, analyzed and disseminated to end users including farmers, traders, agro dealers and consumers in accordance with their informational needs on a regular basis."

In many organizations today an MIS is integrated as part of a computerized system. Access to pro-poor ICT based market information service is a limiting factor both for producers and entrepreneurs. ...Read more

Rice and Maize Selected as Additional Value Chains for Agro-BIG Support

The new year kicked off with a set of two additional value chains in the Agro-BIG programme. In the past year, Agro-BIG has supported two value chains, those of onion and potato. Starting from the beginning of 2015, programme support will be extended to maize and rice.

The crops have been selected by using the criteria of production potential, outreach (in terms of number of producers) and market potential. Both crops have also good prospects to address the needs of women and vulnerable groups. ....read more

UPDATE ON AGRO-BIG GRANT FUNDS

Agro-BIG is operating four funds: 1) Innovation, Demonstration and Research Fund 2) Value Chain Fund 3) Matching Grant Fund and 4) Loan Fund. In the previous call for proposals, approximately 80 grants with a total worth of nearly 7 million ETB have been allocated.

In 2015, there will be several calls for grant applicants. In the first stage of the calls all the applicants have to do is request an application form from Agro-BIG and prepare a simple concept note application

Enthusiastic response to the first call of proposals for AgroBIG grant funds


AgroBIG has launched three grant funds: Innovation, Demonstration and Research Fund (IDRF), Value Chain Fund (VCF) and Matching Grant Fund (MGF).
Response from stakeholders been very encouraging and a large number of applications has been received. A total of 160 concept notes (20 for MGF, 100 for VCF and 40 for IDRF) have been received from primary cooperatives, research centers, universities, private processors, cooperative unions, local and international development agents, small and micro enterprises and traders. read more ....29/10/2014

Bidding farewell to Marko

In early august the Ambassador of Finland to Ethiopia, Sirpa Mäenpää, hosted a farewell party for the outgoing Counsellor at the Embassy, Marko Saarinen.

Marko has worked closely with Agro-BIG and as a token of appreciation, our staff presented Marko with a traditional papyrus boat, manufactured by skilled craftsmen on the shores of Lake Tana. ....read more ....28/10/2014

More money in farmers’ pockets after the establishment of a formal seed system

Nigus Alie is an onion farmer living in Fogera woreda, an area dominated by green rice fields during the rainy season and onion fields during the irrigation season, often referred to as the off season.

In these highlands of Amhara, Ethiopia, Nigus has for the first time been able to produce certified onion seed because of Agro-BIG support. This quality produce has been linked to the market via Nigus’ preferred cooperative, Fogera Seed Multiplication and Marketing Cooperative......read more ....27/10/2014

Training landless youth brings multiple benefits


How to address unemployment issues of landless youth and at the same time tackle problems of onion and potato value chains?
One potential solution: give the youth training on critical agricultural topics and business management so that they can act as private service providers for their local farmers.
This novel approach, now implemented in Agro-BIG, has so far resulted in the successful training of 98 unemployed youth, of which 15 are female, in Fogera and Mecha woredas. read more ....24/10/2014

AgroBIG will pilot M-BIRR mobile money service delivered by ACSI in Mecha and Fogera

AgroBIG together with ACSI and their technology service provider MOSS will implement an intensive 5-month programme starting in August to introduce mobile money services to farmers, cooperatives, traders, RUSACCOs and the general public in the Mecha and Fogera woredas of the Amhara region. The target of the programme is to register 5,000 farmers and 30-50 service agents.

M-Birr mobile money services include payments for services, savings, withdrawals and money transfers by using a mobile phone. This is part of the inclusive finance programme of AgroBIG to make it possible for farmers in the rural areas to access financial services from their homes without having to walk long distances to a bank or MFI branch. More information of the services is available at www.m-birr.com

In Kenya, similar services (M-Pesa) have enjoyed rapid adoption and in 7 years after the introduction of mobile money services, 60% of the adult population uses their mobile phones for every day payments and other financial transactions.

m-birr

The 2014 Budget Year Annual Work Plan and Budget Familiarization Workshop Conducted

Agro-BIG programme is agricultural based economic growth value chain development programme that aims to increase incomes for onion and potato small holder producersby facilitating access to growing markets, enhanced production techniques, appropriate technologies, improved input supplies, and affordable support services, including finance.

The programme intially will be implemented in Mecha and Fogera woredas of Amhara region over a three years period with a number  of key implementing government organizations including BoFED, BoA, BoTT, BoIUD and other associated institutions like CPA, ARARI, etc both at regional and woreda levels.

A one day long familiarization workshop has been conducted  in Bahir Dar city at Ethio-Star Hotel  on 29th January 2014, to orient the regional and woreda level technical and steering committee members on the approved annual work plan and budget so as to facilitate smooth implementation of the work plan.

The objectives of the workshop were:-

  • To reach a consensus  with the regional and allWoreda level implementing organizations  that the programme annual work plan and budget is part of the overall annual work plan and budget,
  • To  make sure that woreda level institutions have properly internalize and integrate the planned activities under their responsibility,
  • To stir preparation of  a detailedannual action plan and prioritize program activities on the basis of their seasonality nature and similarities,
  • To initiate all partners to engage inpreparatory works ahead to facilitate a quick startup and expedite smooth implementation soon after the budget isreleased. and transferred, 
  • To aware implementing  bodies at all levels that there  should be  proper, timely and efficient budget utilization and timely and quality reporting,

The workshop participants were regional  and woreda level steering and technical committee members. A total of about 53 participants drawn from different sector offices of the two programme woredas and the region attended the workshop.

The work shop was officially opened by Mr. Mesfin Gebremedhin, Deputy Bureau Head of the regional Finance and Economic Development Bureau.In his opening speech Mr.Mesfin has thanked all the participants for coming to the workshop despite their busy schedule at their respective woredas and zones. He has also remarked that Agro-BIG programme is a big programme and requires commitment of the leadership at all levels for its successful implementation.

During the closing of the workshop, Mr Teklu Yemanebirhan, representative of BoFED, and Mr.Berhanu Ayichew, the Programme Director,  havesaid that the Agro-BIG programme Annual Work Plan and Budget is part of the government development plan and the leadership at all levels should give attention in implementing the programme activities.Mr. Berhanu noted that that the allocated budget is supposed to be utilized efficiently and responsibly for supporting all the actors involved in the development of the potato and onion value chains.

Mr.Berhanu also pointed out that the government procurement and finance regulations will be applied in utilizing the programme budget. Finally, he noted that a detailed action plan and quarterly budget request need to be prepared and submitted to Programme support Unit at the earliest possible time.